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AfDB and WBG hold Joint Workshop on Lessons Learned from MENA Region Concentrated Solar Power Initiative

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Workshop provides a stakeholder platform for best practices and next steps towards scale up

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank Group (WBG) held a joint workshop to review the status of projects under the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) MENA CSP Investment Plan, of which they are both implementing agencies.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is home to the first regional CTF investment plan, aimed at tripling the world’s concentrated solar power (CSP) capacity.  The MENA CSP Investment Plan presents a concerted regional effort to expedite the deployment of 1 GW of CSP generation capacity and exploit the region’s vast solar energy resources. The plan in the MENA region is part of the Mediterranean grid enhancement that will enable the scale-up of CSP through market integration in the region. Once implemented, this will be one of the largest concentrated solar developments in the world.

The objective of the workshop was to provide stakeholders with a platform to review the status of projects and share knowledge amongst participating countries in CSP development and implementation efforts from the region and globally. Keeping on track and communicating lessons learned are critical to the success of the intended MENA CSP Scale-Up initiative, and this workshop will inform efforts going forward.

Morocco’s Ouarzazate project, as the most advanced project under the investment plan, presented a positive outlook by looking at their program in an integrated manner. Their approach included a component on energy generation, industrial integration, research and development, as well as skills development.  Given the complexity of this program, the coordination of concerted efforts is key.

“Current challenges in project development and structuring can be more effectively overcome by cooperation and partnership among countries,” said Junaid Ahmed, WBG Director of Sustainable Development for the MENA Region.  Other countries from the MENA CSP Investment Plan, which include Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, will draw from international experience as they advance in their own CSP projects.

It was encouraging to see the degree of political commitment displayed, not just from countries in the MENA region but also in other parts of the world, to include renewable energies in their energy mix.

Representatives from CSP projects in South Africa, China, Botswana and India were also present to share their experiences. A key lesson emerging from the shared discussions was that there is no blueprint model but instead different business models adapted to the conditions and needs of local context.  This holds significant promise for further learning opportunities and knowledge generation.

 “Renewable energy holds much promise for Africa,” stated Mafalda Duarte, AfDB Chief Climate Change Specialist and Climate Investment Funds Coordinator. “We must bring attention to these projects and encourage the widespread use of renewables, including CSP which holds substantial promise in Africa given its solar radiation proven potential, to increase energy access, green African economies and deliver on sustainable development.” 

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